Several deficiencies were alleged concerning an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contract for the testing of human fetuses for pesticide residues. The allegations concerned: EPA's monitoring of the contract; the source, condition, and legality of the fetus samples; the usefulness of the data obtained under the contract; and continuation of the contract over objections. EPA awarded a firm fixed-price contract to Automated Medical Services of Ohio, Inc. (AMSO) for $175,213 which was subsequently amended upward to $320,687. EPA monitored the contract primarily by reviewing written reports submitted by AMSO and by single visits to AMSO and to the subcontractor, the University of Utah. The EPA Deputy Administrator noted that the large number of contracts that EPA administers makes onsite visits to all contractors virtually impossible. The Federal Government has no laws prohibiting research on dead fetuses or the products of conception; AMSO believed that it complied with State requirements concerning such research. The issues raised regarding compliance with State procedures and the adequacy of consent forms should be referred to the States involved. Statistically significant data were not generated, and EPA does not plan to use the analytical method developed. As a result, contract benefits to EPA are quite limited. The contract should not have been awarded because of: possible large cost differences in doing the study under contract rather than in-house, the fact that a detection method already existed, and realization that data would not be developed in a timely manner.
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